The new stamp has been presented to the Dutch government, which had requested that one logo be drawn up. While the Choices logo, known as Stichting Ik Kies Bewust in The Netherlands, was used by major manufacturers like Unilever and FrieslandCampina, Albert Heijn’s clover appeared on some 1100 private label products.
The stamp will be carried on some 6600 products in the country.
A spokesperson for Albert Heijn told FoodNavigator.com that the two organisations were working together to develop a common logo for the last two years. It was a long process, she said, because they were using different criteria for determining what constitutes a healthy product in product categories.
The common criteria were drawn up by an independent scientific committee and are in line with the Official Dutch Guidelines for Food Choice published by The Netherlands Food Centre.
Not only is the common stamp expected to help consumers identify healthier products, but it will also help manufacturers develop products that are below threshold levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat.
Two version of the new stamp exist. The green stamp (pictured) represents the healthy choice within a category of basic products like bread, milk, fruit and vegetables. The blue stamp is for healthier options within non-basic categories like snacks, soups and sauces.
One logo for Europe
The unveiling of the new Dutch logo comes at a time when nutritional labelling is high on the agenda in Europe. The new food information regulation is now entering its second reading at the European Parliament. While at first reading the Parliament and Council were broadly in agreement that a format resembling the guidance daily amount (GDA) scheme be used across Europe, there remains considerable disagreement as to whether national schemes should be allowed to appear alongside them.
However article 23 of Regulation (EC) 1924/2006, on health and nutrition claims allows EU member states to adopt new legislation on logos subject to notification to the Commission.
The new Dutch logo does not relate to health claims for added health benefits, however, but for nutrition claims relating to energy (calorific value), nutrient content and reduced/increased levels of nutrients.